The Medicare changes that took place early in 2011 worry many people. Some people are convinced that a person will pay less out of their own pocket because of how the health care law took effect. Few of the overall changes affect the average Medicare consumer. Most of the changes made to the Government-sponsored health insurance program for older Americans affected how doctors get reimbursed and did not change the pay structure. Changes to the doctor reimbursement structure will affect patients, but it does not affect their out-of-pocket costs.
The most important changes occurred to premiums. Premiums for Part B went down slightly. Part D co-pays also changed because many seniors found themselves in what is referred to as the donut hole. The donut hole is a gap in prescription drug covers where a person must pay for his prescription drugs until he reaches the other side. A change to the way this system works causes a person to pay half of the prescription drug cost as a co-pay rather than shouldering the full cost. $250 checks were mailed out to anyone who entered the donut hole at the end of 2010.
The Medicare changes make it harder for patients to find doctors who accept Medicare. Prices that hospitals and doctors are allowed to charge patients did not change. What a beneficiary pays remains close to what he paid before. Rising medical costs, inflation and Medicare changes to the benefits a person receives may cause a person to pay out a few extra dollars for health care coverage this year than he paid out in previous years. The donut hole, however, does have another side and Medicare eventually resumes paying for a person’s prescription drugs.